First start for Kongolo against Heracles Almelo

With Stefan de Vrij injured and Joris Mathijsen suspended, Terence Kongolo will form a central defensive partnership with Bruno Martins Indi at Heracles Almelo on Sunday. It will be the 18-year-old Kongolo’s first-team debut for Feyenoord. ‘I made a point of telling him two days before the game,’ explained Koeman on Friday afternoon. ‘It’s a nice thing for a coach to be able to tell someone. Terence has a lot of potential and during preseason and in training he’s proven he’s ready. He is a proper defender, physically strong and very fast.’

Koeman took some time out on Friday afternoon to look back on the Sparta Prague game. The term ‘a game of two halves’ is not a cliché for nothing, but rarely has there been such a big discrepancy in Feyenoord’s performance between the first and second 45 minutes as in Thursday’s draw.

The late equaliser generated a huge sense of relief in the home camp and the squad arrived for training on Friday morning in positive spirits ahead of Sunday’s game at Heracles Almelo.

‘I was very dissatisfied with the first half, but because of the way we fought our way back into the game I had a completely different feeling by the end,’ said Koeman.

In Koeman’s view, the reason Feyenoord found it tough going in the first half was his side’s faltering build-up play. ‘We took the long-ball option too often, which played to their physical strengths. I didn’t see the Feyenoord I’m used to.’

Koeman discussed it with keeper Erwin Mulder after Friday morning training. ‘I feel the build-up starts with him. It’s his job to organise his defenders so they get in certain positions so the build-up is more fluent.’

Koeman spoke in support of Martins Indi, who was caught out somewhat for both of Sparta Prague’s goals. ‘The goals we conceded were not only down to him, they were the consequence of a given situation. Don’t forget that he now has to play on the right side of central defence, which takes some getting used to.’

The coach does not feel that Martins Indi’s inclusion in the provisional Dutch squad affected his concentration. ‘Bruno is a level-headed boy who is very focused on getting better and he is very eager to learn.’

Koeman did not want to say whether Kongolo would be the only change to the team that battled back to draw with Sparta Prague. ‘We have every opportunity to prepare as well as possible and make any tactical changes in the last training session on Saturday.’

Probable team: Mulder; Janmaat, Martins Indi, Kongolo, Nelom; Leerdam (Vormer), Immers, Clasie; Schaken, Fernandez, Cissé.
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